Last May the government used the Budget to crack down on people collecting huge loans to become pilots. It restricted loans for aviation students and capped provider fees at $40,000 per student. It also prevented people from using their student loans for solo flight hours.
By October last year the government scrapped all those changes.
In this year’s Budget the government again limited student loan borrowing for aviation students, this time to $35,000 per student, but it also increased funding to pilot training subsidies by $1.4 million over four years, an increase of nearly 20 percent.
It also increased funding for science degrees by two percent and funding for engineering degrees by eight percent, without any corresponding evidence from the minister that there will be a workforce demand for degree level scientists and engineers in three or four years’ time.
TEU national president Sandra Grey says the minister confirmed at his post-Budget briefing last week that there was no evidence of demand for an increase in science graduates. Yet he also confirmed he will look to change the relativities between more subjects in the future.
“The government does not appear to have a clear evidence-based strategy for workforce planning, said Dr Grey. “It seems simply to respond to media and anecdote about shortages and ‘crises’. Last year we heard student pilots were costing the government too much money because of their high student loans and low chance of repayment. This year after to-ing and fro-ing the government cuts the student loans for these pilots even further, but then gives the money out as straight subsidy. How does that save the government money?”
“Meanwhile,” said Dr Grey, “we are told we need more scientists and engineers, but technology teachers are losing their jobs in intermediate schools. And tertiary education incentives to encourage people to become teachers are followed shortly thereafter with announcements that class sizes will rise so that hundreds of teachers will lose their jobs. It seems visionless.”